Post-GE13: An Open Letter To Everyone

To whom it may concern.

TO THE FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS

Congratulations on being given the mandate to administer the state and/or country for the next 5 years or so. Regardless of the political parties and officials that will constitute the makeup of the government, please try your hardest to keep the promises made in your respective election manifestos. 

Mr Prime Minister, you claimed that the losses your party suffered was due to a ‘Chinese tsunami’. As has already been noted in several analyses and objective opinion pieces elsewhere, the results were more due to a shift in urban voting patterns and not necessarily tied to any race groups.

I say this because I don’t want to see nor hear from any official quarter any blame or accusation being leveled at my Chinese-Malaysian countrymen or to any race, for that matter. Many of the multiracial citizens of this country rejected the politics of race, religion and corruption in the hopes of ushering a new phase of democracy in Malaysia.

And I think we succeeded to some extent,  if I may say so myself.

We voted out a few whom in the past tried to divide the populace by spewing hate-filled venom, pitting neighbour against neighbour in the name of race and/or religion. We don’t want them back, and I hope you won’t bring them back. If you could charter a flight to take them far away, that would be great. I hear Antartica is nice this time of year.

Please do away with race-based politics and policies. What’s good for one Malaysian ought to be good for all Malaysians.

Don’t seek to label or group people based on race. Please remove those odious race fields in official forms. I’m Malaysian; isn’t that enough?

Don’t let segments of the population be dependent on handouts. Provide opportunities to grow to all who may otherwise be left out of the nation’s economic growth, regardless of race, religion, colour, creed or political persuasion.

Strive to ensure that everyone has a fair shake at making a success of themselves. A citizenry equipped with the skills and knowledge to be self-sufficient and independent means less burden on the government in propping us up.

Mr Prime Minister and all state Chief Ministers, please remember that you are responsible for ALL the citizens in the country/state, not just the people who voted for you and your party.

Please do take note of the many legitimate grievances of the rakyat. The stock market may  hit record highs, and business tycoons may yet continue to prosper, but Johan Public continues to struggle with low-income jobs and rising costs of living.

Corruption continues to be endemic, and transparency in government business remains suspect. Crime rates are worrying, to say the least. Freedom of expression and other basic human rights continue to be curtailed in the name of outmoded laws and regulations.

The repealing of the ISA was a good start, Mr Prime Minister. But it remains only a start. There are lots of stupid laws out there on the books. Get rid of them.

Members of the federal and state government cabinets, please immerse yourself in your respective job portfolios. Work honestly and diligently for the betterment of the nation. Please do not look for opportunities to line your pockets while ostensibly carrying out your duties. Please do not confuse the rakyat’s money with your personal expense account.

A few things you can do that you may not have done before (or not done well):

  • Reach out to the public. Campaigning is over, you’ve won, so there’s no need to play to the gallery and make empty promises. 
  • Use any means at your disposal (media, internet, town-hall meetings, etc) to get closer to the rakyat. However you do it, make sure you hear them out.
  • Work with your staff in preparing plans to solve or at least ease the people’s woes.
  • Present said plans to the rakyat. Get their buy-in. Do NOT proceed if the people are opposed to them. Amend plans or start from scratch again. Don’t take short-cuts. And don’t ride rough-shod over the people’s will.
  • Execute plans okayed by the rakyat. Present a quarterly or annual progress report to us. Don’t bury it in jargon, ensure everyone is able to understand what you’re doing and how things are going.

Remember, success in governing a state or nation is not measured by profit-loss numbers or balance sheets. If it was, we’d just get rid of the whole lot of you and bring in a corporation to run ourselves.

Success relates to the well-being of the citizens. Keep this at the forefront of everything you do.

You are public servants. You are accountable to the rakyat. Screw up, and you’ll hear from us.

We’re watching. Closely. Ignore us at your peril.

TO THE OPPOSITION MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT AND STATE ASSEMBLYMEN/WOMEN

Congratulations, you’ve won the confidence of your constituents to represent them in parliament or the state assembly. Unfortunately, not enough of your fellow party members won as well, so you’re now sitting on the Opposition benches.

But it is not the end of your work. Just because you do not have access to the public coffers does not mean you can’t do anything good for the people.

Your primary job (indeed, your single-most important role), is to provide checks-and-balances to the federal and/or state government. Without your presence and eagle-eyed vigilance, the ruling party could well be tempted to abuse their privileges and power.

Ask questions. Probe questionable deals and dodgy bills. Present the woes of your constituents to the sitting government. Take them to task over promises that are not kept (or dismissed as figures of speech). Don’t be tardy or play hooky. Divide time equally between meeting your constituents and attending Parliamentary or state assembly sittings.

But don’t oppose everything for the sake of opposing. Work with the government to help the people. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about: getting things done for the rakyat.

For starters, here’s what you can do:

  • Form a Shadow Cabinet. Ensure each portfolio on the government side is matched with a representative on the opposition side.
  • Ensure the Shadow Cabinet works as diligently as the government cabinet ought to. Think of plans and ideas to help the rakyat. Just because you’re not in power doesn’t mean you do nothing. The more heads we have taking a crack at problems, the likelier the chance we’ll find good workable solutions.
  • Prove to the people that you can form an alternative government.

We’ll be keeping an eye on you too. Let us down, and you may not get a second chance 5 years down the road.

TO ALL THE LEGALLY-ELECTED PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVES IN PARLIAMENT AND STATE ASSEMBLIES

Congratulations on your victories. The elections are over. Campaigning has ended. Now get to work.

Leave juvenile politics behind. Stop the childish name-calling and baiting that passes for parliamentary and state assembly sittings these days.

Don’t engage in provocation or respond to it either. Don’t throw a hissy fit and leave the hall. Any such walkout protests do nothing for the rakyat, and it only leaves the other side in fits and giggles. Don’t give in to them. Stand fast, stand firm, stand your ground.

Speakers, please play fair. Partisanship is unwelcome in the matter of getting things done for the people.

Please, please work together in creating a world-class Parliament and state assemblies.

TO THE SURUHANJAYA PILIHANRAYA (ELECTION COMMISSION)

You guys… what the hell happened? What went wrong? The level of incompetence over the organisation of the elections is staggering.

Put aside the (unfortunately difficult-to-prove) allegations of vote-rigging, fraud, mysterious ballot boxes and magical blackouts. Even the clear and visible evidence of screw-ups that anyone can see is upsetting.

Take the indelible ink fiasco, for example. Yes, it is a fiasco. First you say it’s fool-proof, then you say it depends on how your staff shake the bottle, then you say it’s watered-down to meet halal guidelines, and finally you say it doesn’t matter cos people can’t vote twice anyway, etc etc.

The ink was purchased at a cost of a couple of million ringgit, am I right? That’s the rakyat’s money, and you end up dismissing it in the end as being essentially irrelevant.

There are also issues with organising and managing the large queues of people who came to vote. In some cases, it was almost a free-for-all, with people not knowing exactly where to go and what to do when in the voting centre.

It was only down to helpful individual EC staff and officials on the ground who managed to keep things orderly. It certainly wasn’t down to any official Standard Operating Procedure, that’s for sure.

All in all, the EC seems to have been stuck in a time-warp, practicing old-school processes that are out of date in the 21st century.

And stop kow-towing to the powers-that-be. Work with BERSIH and other NGOs to ensure that the next elections are truly clean, fair and free.

Look, the simple fact is this: BERSIH enjoys the confidence of more people than you do. I seriously doubt anyone would go on a march for you guys.

Clean yourselves up, and then clean up the electoral process. The future of this nation depends on what you do next.

TO MY FELLOW MALAYSIAN CITIZENS

I salute you!

You came out in droves, in record numbers, to vote for the future of our country.

You took it upon yourselves to prevent possible electoral fraud from occurring, sometimes at great personal risk.

You engaged in the national debate for our nation’s soul, in trying to determine the path it should take. And you did so in full voice.

Whatever happens now, rest assured you did great. Congratulations!

It doesn’t matter who you voted for. The important question we ask ourselves now is, “What’s next?”

We must hold our elected representatives accountable.

We must hold our government accountable.

We must not turn a blind eye to corruption and injustice at any level of government.

We must not try currying favour with our leaders or participate in bribery in order to get ahead of the pack.

We must look out for our fellow citizens, whatever their race, religion or political persuasion.

We must voice our objections to unjust laws and policies that sow discord and hurt our countrymen.

We must object to lies and disinformation that are spread to create fear and arouse misplaced anger.

We must also close ranks without prejudice and work together, in honest toil, for a better country.

And let’s not ever give up on each other, no matter what happens.

We’re Malaysians, you and I. Long may that be the case.

TO NURUL IZZAH ANWAR, MP FOR P121 LEMBAH PANTAI

Congratulations, Nurul on retaining the Parliamentary seat for Lembah Pantai, my constituency.

I admire your principles and efforts to campaign based on issues instead of trading insults and cheap shots with your opponent. Indeed, it was quite regrettable that the ex-FT Minister chose not to accept your offer to participate in a debate with you.

You show remarkable maturity and class for someone so young (only 33!). And yet your work in Parliament over the last 5 years is a clear testament to your having your head screwed on right.

But please don’t rest on your laurels. There’s more work to be done, and even more uphill battles to be fought.

You’re on the Opposition benches again, so you might want to read what I wrote somewhere at the beginning of this long post. (Not that you might actually be reading this, but what the heck, I just want to syok sendiri a bit…)

Your opponent kept harping on your alleged no-show in Lembah Pantai, so here’s your chance to prove him and his supporters wrong.

As you’ve already mentioned in your various ceramahs, you’re not going to get much facetime in the mainstream media, so the public-at-large may not know what you do.

But your social media and digital team certainly outdid themselves in getting the word out of your activities in this campaign, so you might want to persist with them in doing the same for the next 5 years.

Keep working hard, stay humble and classy, and kick some a$$ when you’re in Parliament!

Sincerely,

Me.

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